A luau is a Hawaiian feast and no visit to Hawaii would be complete without experiencing an authentic Hawaiian Luau. On Maui there is a great selection to choose from.
Several hotels offer beach luaus featuring Hawaiian foods such as kalua pig, cooked in an earthen oven, poi and haupia (coconut pudding), along with a buffet of more familiar foods. There is lots of Hawaiian music, hula, and even fire dancing. Your best best is to rent a Maui vacation rental and then visit the tourist info center nearby for times and locations.
2. Visit One of Maui's Botanical Gardens
Maui is home to a wide assortment of botanical gardens, most of which are available for self-guided or guided tours. There is the Garden of Eden - a botanical flower garden, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens - dedicated to the protection of Maui Nui's rich native plants and cultural heritage, or Kula Botanical Garden in upcountry Maui to name a few.
3. Swim, Snorkel, Surf, Dive or Sail
Being an island, it's little surprise that some of the best things to do on Maui take place on or under the ocean. There is much to do on Maui: more than just sitting on the beach, although that ranks high on most lists.
Offshore snorkelers and divers are captivated with the Molokini crater with it's exciting marine life. Many hotels rent snorkel gear, or you can rent it from one of the many dive shops around the island. Glass bottom boats and a pleasure submarine open up the wonders to non-swimmers.
Sheltered by the surrounding islands, the waters of Maui are ideal for sailing. There are many adventure companies to choose from. Try a sailboat or catamaran charter, a Hawaiian sailing canoe, a sailfish or a sunset cruise. Family-run picnic excursions cross the channel regularly to Lana‘i and can get you back in time for sunset at your Hawaii vacation rental.
4. Go for a Drive
Renting a car while on Maui is one of the best options for getting around. Public transportation is available but it is sometimes sporadic and routes are limited.
The most popular drive on Maui, and in all of Hawaii, is the Road to Hana with 54 bridges in 56 miles along a winding lava shore, through old plantation towns, past miles of beaches and through towering forests. The road trip from Kahului to Hana and then back via the southern route is a world-class scenic drive whose hazards are sometimes exaggerated by timid drivers and the more tender city-slickers from the mainland.
A drive to the summit of Haleakala is also a must.
5. Enjoy a Restaurant
Modern cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many ethnicity, particularly American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch featuring the Asian staple, two scoops of rice, a simplified version of American macaroni salad (consisting of macaroni noodles and mayonnaise), and a variety of different toppings ranging from the hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy of a Loco Moco, Japanese style tonkatsu or the traditional lu'au favorite, kalua pig.
On Maui there is a restaurant for every taste. From lavish hotel dining rooms to lunch counters serving plate lunches, Maui's eateries are pleasing and diverse. There are informal seaside fish houses, fine dining with an ocean view, or open-air dining amongst the flowering trees. Take a break from cooking in your vacation rental kitchen and try one out.
A few worth checking out are:
- Hali'imaile General Store offers elegant yet unpretentious lunch and dinner menu selections designed with fresh island ingredients and flavors in a stylish, refurbished plantation store setting.
- Casanova Italian Restaurant and Deli is an Upcountry institution. The pizzas, baked in a brick wood-burning oven imported from Italy, are the best on the island, especially the tartufo, or truffle oil pizza. The daytime deli serves outstanding sandwiches and espresso. After dining hours, local and visiting entertainers heat up the dance floor.
- Pukalani Superette located in Makawao, this place offers a wide catering menu, daily bentos, fresh local produce and groceries. "This was really the best lunch we had while on the island of Maui." says a number of personal reviews.
6. Go Shopping
Maui is a shopper's paradise with its numerous galleries, designer boutiques, shopping malls and international shops, not to mention its great swap meets and farmer's markets. Many carry Maui specialty items and products unique to Hawaii which include specialty jewelry, art and glass work, hand-turned bowls and objects of beautiful native woods, hats woven of lau hala and hand painted resort fashions. You'll discover island treasures in stores across the island.
Walk from one of the many vacation rental accommodations to a nearby golf course. What better way to enjoy a vacation. Maui is a premier destination for golf with more than a dozen courses in superb settings where players can match their skills against the ingenuity of legendary golf course designers.
Maui has two distinct areas where the bulk of the accommodations and golf resorts are situated: Kaanapali Beach and Kapalua.
8. Relax on the Beach
There are more than 80 beaches on Maui and 120 miles of coastline. The beaches come in sands of gold, black, green, red and pure, shimmering white.
There is a beach for everyone here. Big Beach and Kealia are long and undeveloped whereas there ar family-oriented beaches with lifeguards to protect you, like Kama'ole I, II, and III, as well as developed beaches with high-rise hotels right along the shore, like Ka'anapali Beach. Maui also is home to not one but two of the world's best windsurfing beaches, Kanaha Beach Park and Ho'okipa Beach Park.
9. Watch Whales
Maui draws the greatest concentration of humpback whales. December through April is mating season. These amazing mammals give birth in the warm waters which have been designated a national marine sanctuary. Learn about the unique mating habits on a naturalist-led boat trip. During winter this is the first part of Hawaii visited by migrating whales.
Various companies offer whale watching excursions aboard both power and sail boats. All ocean vessels are required to stay at least 100 yards away from the whales, but as visitors aboard whale-watching cruises will happily tell you, no restrictions keep the whales from coming up to investigate the boats.
The Whalers Village Museum in Kaanapali is an informative way to spend an afternoon. Read descriptions and stories about the whaling industry, including the people and the lifestyle.
Maui has a vast array of trails and hiking on the island. The lush Pipiwai trail beyond Hana, the moon-like crater of Haleakala hike or Keoneheehee Sliding Sands Trail are all fun to explore. There are self-guided trips or choose tours with the many companies that offer group and customized hikes.
Pick the climate and terrain you prefer. You can trek across Maui's most recent lava flow along the coast at La Pérouse; or climb Haleakala and descend for a hike into the crater's back country. Walk into a rainforest echoing with the songs of birds found nowhere else on the planet. There are trails to waterfalls with plunge pools for swimming, and walks into valleys so deep they never see a sunrise or a sunset.